Aug 17, 2023
Make Your Own Plasma Cutter
Of all the tools that exist, there aren’t many more futuristic than the plasma cutter, if a modern Star Wars cosplay if your idea of futuristic. That being said, plasma cutters are a powerful tool
Of all the tools that exist, there aren’t many more futuristic than the plasma cutter, if a modern Star Wars cosplay if your idea of futuristic. That being said, plasma cutters are a powerful tool capable of making neat cuts through practically any material, and there are certainly worst ways to play with high voltage.
Lucky enough, [Plasanator] posted their tutorial for how to make a plasma cutter, showing the steps through which they gathered parts from “old microwaves, stoves, water heaters, air conditioners, car parts, and more” in the hopes of creating a low-budget plasma cutter better than any on YouTube or from a commercial vendor.
The plasma cutter does end up working up quite an arc, with the strength to slice through quarter-inch steel “like a hot knife through butter”.
Its parts list and schematic divide the systems into power control, high current DC, low voltage DC, and high voltage arc start:
At the cutting end, 13A is used to cut through quarter-inch steel. Considering the considerably high voltage cutter this is, a 20 A line breaker is needed for safety.
Once the project is in a more refined state, [Plasanator] plans on hiding components like the massive capacitors and transformer behind a metal or plastic enclosure, rather than have them exposed. This is mainly for safety reasons, although having the parts exposed is evocative of a steampunk aesthetic.
In several past designs, stove coils were used as current resistors and a Chevy control module as the high voltage arc start. The schematic may have become more refined with each build, but [Plasanator]’s desire to use whatever components were available certainly has not disappeared.
[Thanks to jafinch78 for the tip!]